The Green Party manifesto is the most honest of them all. 

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April 16, 2015 by Paul Goldsmith

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Reading the Green Party manifesto I found myself lost in admiration for the only honest document produced by any political party this week. You should read it, you really should, and you should do so with an open mind and without cynicism. It sets out a vision of an alternative way of life for the United Kingdom that will require a massive change in just about every way we do things. But, instead of pretending, as Labour in particular do, that increasing tax won’t change behaviour but will just bring in more revenue and will continue to feed strong economic growth, the Greens admit that the transitory period will involve some real financial pain for individuals and the country. But the country they would create in the long term – described by asking you to imagine the new way of life and eventually on page 77 by giving you the day in the life of a happy, healthy citizen, is quite an uplifting idea.

What I like most is that they are very blunt with their assessment of how long many of the changes will take. They are also blunt about the cost of them, and the uplift in tax revenue that would be needed to fund it. But they are not trying to hide that, instead they justify it by explaining how that tax would be used to give everyone in the country a quality of life that we could be proud of, instead of the situation at the moment in which many of us have to turn our heads so that we might not notice the poverty and destitution suffered by some fellow citizens, for want of a job, or a decent wage. They are blunt in accepting that government spending to build 500,000 houses, create 1 million public sector jobs and many other things would have to be about 50% of GDP for the wealth that we produce to be providing the appopriate quality and quantity of public services for everyone. They are also blunt about needing to borrow over £300bn during the course of the next a Parliament (instead of the £100 billion or so likely for the mainstream parties). Finally they are blunt about the slower growth that will result. But they are similarly blunt about not really caring about that.

This is because the Greens don’t think we should be measuring our output by GDP anymore, but by ANP (adjusted national product), which takes the monetary value of our output and subtracts the cost of the resources being used up, and the resulting pollution. They feel that if our ANP can grow, our way of life could be so much sweeter and healthier that , with less actual money, we would actually feel richer. Hence there will be money spent on insulating all homes, hence there will be carbon quotas for everyone, with people being able to sell any allocation they don’t use, hence there will be a plan implemented to stop using non-renewable resources altogether and to go past the UK’s obligations under the EU Climate Change Agreement.

Some of the most interesting policies are around taxes and equality. There is a ‘Robin Hood Tax’, which is a small tax on all financial transactions. It will raise a lot of money without necessarily reducing output from financial services, seeing as it is so small. There will be encouragement and then possible regulation that no company in Britain can have the top paid employee earning more than ten times the bottom paid employee. Ways to discourage excessive pay include a 60% top rate of income tax and, interestingly, companies not being able to include the pay of anyone earning more than ten times the wage of the lowest earner in the company in costs that can be taken off profits to lower corporation tax. Corporation tax will be raised to where it is in the other G7 countries, and the income from that used to abolish tuition fees, including wiping out existing loans. The argument being that our corporations benefit from the education received by university graduates, so they can contribute more towards it. The Greens plan a wealth tax on those with assets over £3 million, and promise that what they receive from that will be used to lower national insurance. So, if people avoid the wealth tax, national insurance will remain high (a very clever way of setting company owners against the rich by essentially saying that if you don’t pay your wealth tax you are actually costing jobs).

At the end, from page 79 to 83, are the costings, and they are far clearer and in far more detail than any their opponents. It all makes for a very impressive document.

Now, you may be thinking, what’s the point? They aren’t going to be in government. But these ideas are now being fed into the public consciousness, which is a good thing. If a manifesto like this were ever going to be delivered, it would mean enough of the country are fed up with how we currently live our lives and want to change, so you cannot just dismiss it as ‘it’ll never happen’. In particular, you can’t use the argument that it will never happen because people will leave the country, or companies will too, because the Greens can counter with the argument that the revolution they want may mean some people are incompatible with their values, and they can go if they want to.

Who knows how the Greens will do on May 7th? Brighton Pavillion should be retained, Norwich South and Bristol West could be gained. But whatever happens this campaign has been a success for them. They have been involved in two debates, and the press have properly covered their manifesto launch. Yes, they are badly in need of a charismatic figure to really broadcast their message, but if that ever happens, change could be coming, and if you read the manifesto properly, with an open mind, it’s really not so scary after all.

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16 thoughts on “The Green Party manifesto is the most honest of them all. 

  1. Andree Frieze says:

    Reblogged this on Action Against Apathy and commented:
    The truth is getting out there…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alan says:

    They present a compelling argument that is hard to refute. We do need to move towards a sustainable economy and away from the current model, which is basically slash and burn. However what impresses me is the underlying compassion they show. They want to look after the poor and frail and give people equal opportunity. It is so fundamentally humanitarian. I fail to comprehend why some feel threatened by this. It is an honest, coherent, and optimistic alternative vision for our future, and like yourself I would recommend people to read it, and not rely on articles in the press, which can and do distort. Alas much of the press appears neither fair nor impartial..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan, put simply. People feel threatened by this as it is a fundamental change in their life style and they are concerned about how it will affect them. Some people will have to have cutbacks in their standards of living over a period of time to pay for this and also because of the massive redistribution of wealth involved. They haven’t got their heads around how it’s all about measuring standards of living differently. Much as you can argue that we would all be the winners from this, there are people who will be losers in the short run. I think, to be honest, that the Greens suffer from having no one who seems remotely competent at the administration that would be involved in the pledges in the manifesto. They could do with a properly charismatic leader and also to build up a track record of administrative competence on some councils in particular

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  3. Reblogged this on Wicked Green Blog and commented:
    Lovely summary of the GP manifesto. Read it with an open mind!

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  4. I utterly agree with everything you say. The Green Party are the party of the people and their manifesto proves that. Unfortunately, they are held back by the old boys’ network preventing them from getting the same level of coverage on the TV as the LibLabConKip parties. Nor do they have the financial backing from big business whose interests are served by those big parties. It’s going to be a long haul for the Greens but every vote they get this time will help them to overcome future barriers put up by Ofcom, the BBC and ITV that have put in place to stop them getting the support they deserve.

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    • I think if they want to have some real political impact they need to find a charismatic leader. The effect of having a Farage-like person would be very important. He has almost single handed lay taken UKIP from pressure group to mainstream political party and the Greens do need to find someone who can even approach his impact

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      • There is something terribly wrong with our society when people vote for charisma and not for the policies and personal integrity. History has shown us plenty of other charismatic leaders who scapegoat minorities to win support and that is happening again.

        The election battle between Farage, Cameron and Miliband has been like a Simon Cowell t.v. show and people are taken in by the soundbites and ignore, or don’t care, that 3.5 million children live in poverty with 1.6 million of those being in severe poverty.

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      • But Ivor, there is something terribly wrong with our society, which is why it is important that the Green Party alternative gets taken seriously – but you have to meet society somewhere in the middle on this and have it articulated by someone more likely to break through into peoples’ consciousness.

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  5. Robert O'Hara says:

    I agree with everything you say in your article, and thank you for articulating it so clearly. I do not, however, agree with your comments regarding a charismatic leader. Yes, Natalie Bennett has had some poor performances, in front of the media, but the last thing the Green Party needs is yet another “charismatic” leader like Farage or Blair. The media focus on these people too much, as so the electorate. We need someone who can articulate the policy and, indeed, the passion. There are many great people in the Green Party who can do this efficiently, with or without charisma. Let’s get away from personalities and return to policies; let’s not play the media at their game.

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    • In a ideal world Robert that would happen. But this isn’t an ideal world. If you want to have any chance of getting traction for your world view and the policies that go with it you DO need someone with charisma. I don’t believe the way politics is at the moment you can just say ‘I wish it was different’ and make it so. If you do then you’ll stay at your 5%

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      • Robert O'Hara says:

        Sorry, I don’t agree. The reason we believe that charisma is so important is because that image is fed to us on a daily basis. We are fed a diet of reality TV, even in the political sphere. Maybe the next step is to ensure that the leader is female, under 25, with a thin waist and big chest – preferably blonde. When we allow “image” to decide who is going to be our leader, we are on a slippery slope. If Natalie Bennett had torn Andrew Neil apart, as she should have done, and given accurate, decisive answers on that radio programme, we would not be worrying about charisma.

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      • At no point am I suggesting the Greens have a leader like that, and I think you know that. I am also not just talking about charisma, but I am also talking about competence, and have written about this before. Nathalie Bennett inability to even answer Andrew neil’s questions are a matter of competence not charisma. But if you don’t think that the Greens wouldn’t be helped by having someone with an ability to connect with voters and you want to continue to try and hope the world and what is important to it will change on its own then I feel you will be waiting a long time. You don’t want Nigel Farage at the head of your party, but consider that Farage has on his own pulled UKIP from a pressure group to a mainstream political party with equal Ofcom billing and 15% of the vote. Can you really say that someone like that wouldn’t help the Greens. (And you know full well I am not talking about his policies!)

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      • Robert O'Hara says:

        I know YOU weren’t suggesting such a leader, Paul, but this is the slippery slope that we end up on, if we start doing personality politics. Competence and policies are the key, and that’s it for me. If we have to use Farage as an example of someone we should aspire our leader to be more like, then we really are lost. Why not go the whole way and say if only the Greens had a leader like Thatcher, or Hitler? Anyway, your article was excellent, and I’d rather thank you again for that contribution than to worry, too much, about what kind of leader the Green Party has.

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  6. david Wood says:

    This is a good analysis of the manifesto. I agree with you about a charismatic leader, as natalie is not that. It seems that the green part are in a cleft stick about this. They are not really into leaders as such, or into personality politics, so will they be forever a party hovering around 5 – 10%? i hope not, because to me their manifesto is the most socially just.

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  7. Alison says:

    Just want to pick up on one point- the manifesto says it wants to raise corporation tax to 30% from 20% for the larger companies only, for the smaller ones it will remain the same. The manifesto has a special section – pg 48 – about how the Greens would help small firms and the local economy. How many people know that Green MP Caroline Lucas was an official Parliamentary champion of the Federation of Small Businesses!

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